Ouya Launches $99 Open Source, Grassroots-Funded Gaming Console to Take on Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony

Although mobile and social gaming is all the rage, gaming on a living room console connected to your TV has always been a thoroughly enjoyable way to while away the hours alone or with friends. In recent years, the Xbox (alone and with the Kinect), Wii, and Playstation have dominated living rooms. Now there’s another contender, the Ouya, which costs $99, runs on an open platform, and is built so that hackers and devs can tweak it and create for it.

Here’s the group’s Kickstarter video:

The team behind Ouya believes that game development for consoles is spiraling away from independent developers due largely to rising costs associated with game development. By producing a hackable (every Ouya is technically a dev kit!) console with open source software, costs remain low and development is crowd-sourced to brilliant tinkerers all over the world. The group is even keeping things grassroots by raising money--$950,000 to be exact--on Kickstarter; at this moment, the pledges are already up to $283,630 and counting, with 2,125 backers.

Ouya gaming console

The Ouya is built on Android 4.0 and sports a Tegra 3 quad-core chip, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of internal flash storage, WiFi 802.11b/g/n, and Bluetooth LE 4.0. There’s a USB 2.0 port as well as HDMI with 1080p HD support, and the kit comes with Ouya’s carefully-designed wireless controller, which itself has a d-pad, a pair of analog sticks, eight action buttons, a system button, and a touchpad. There’s already a working prototype.

Ouya gaming console controller

Games for the Ouya will be free to try (if not entirely free), and a major part of Ouya is the controller, which has been lovingly designed for “precise controls”, “tactility”, and a size that’s just right.

Ouya gaming console interface

As always, a small-time operation--even one driven by industry veterans--looking to upset a market segment dominated by huge companies like Microsoft and Sony has a mountain to climb, although Ouya appears to have plenty of fervent backers. (Update after ten minutes or so: $295,392 and 2,229 backers.)